Spice is the variety of life

What a true observation! Here, in Bozeman, winter has settled into an Andrew Wyeth landscape of desiccated deciduous trees, short days, biting cold, a limited palette accented by the startling sky, and life centering on the camaraderie of friends who actually spend the winter here.

This weekend, at our ski condo in Moonlight, dinner guests Brian and Mary Wheeler remarked this was their 26th winter in Big Sky, managing property for Big Sky Resort. I gasped at the thought–twenty-six winters in Montana! And, they are totally in love with each other and their children, happy, and terrific folks! If you don’t know them, try to meet them. The best of the best.

Exactly a year ago, Dearest and I were in Mumbai, India. He had been recently diagnosed with a terrible cancer, my best friend and partner Stuart had fled Bozeman for a new life in Connecticut based on reuniting with the love of her life, and I wondered what the future would possibly hold.

So, tonight, I did the reasonable thing. I prepared an Indian meal. It began with recently watching my idol Bobby Flay on Iron Chef prepare fried chicken with curry seasonings. I LOVE fried chicken, and this was a moment of true epiphany. Fried chicken with exotic spices? Why not? But…of course! Then, Food52, which is the most brilliant food blog/site/inspiration (www.food52.com) highlights a section called “Genius Recipes” which is currently featuring a stir-fried Indian cabbage recipe by Madhur Jaffrey. Extraordinary. Revolutionary.

I added to Dearest and my menu saffron rice, mushrooms with lots of Indian spices, yogurt-cucumber raita, naan, and I naturally opened a great Pinot. What is a dinner without a worthy bottle of California red? My Dearest and I feasted, and with each bite, those spices transported us right back to Mumbai. The memory of taste reunites us to the past, making it burst to life anew. It’s easy to transport yourself: Open your spice drawer, heat up the winter, and hug those you love along the way. You never know what a year will bring.